People Of The Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil (M Scott Peck)

People Of The LieOur ultimate personality disorder. This author really did everyone a service by giving us this gift. This is worth 100 ‘self help’ paperbacks by Wayne Dyer and his ilk. This book will question your character. Oh boy, does this describe so much of humanity. Particularly certain parents and the way they cover up their abuse. In this book you will meet a couple who encouraged both their sons to commit suicide. And they refused to admit it when confronted with the facts. The build up to their-hoped-for suicide of the second son is particularly shocking. In fact it is no good even reviewing this classic work. I shall just quote extensively from it. I hope it will give you the flavour even though some of the psychiatric case back stories are missing, so possibly some of the meaning may be out of context but its worth it….

“Wherever there is evil, there is a lie around…If one wants to seek out evil people, the simplest way to do so is to trace them from their victims. The best place to look, then, is among the parents of emotionally disturbed children or adolescents. I do not mean to imply that all emotionally disturbed children are victims of evil or that all such parents are malignant persons. The configuration of evil is present only in a minority of these cases. It is, however, a substantial minority.”

“It may be that the parents described were not themselves suffering, but their families were. And the symptoms of family disorder–depression, suicide, failing grades, –were attributed to the leadership. The suffering of the children was a symptom of the sickness of the parents.”

(Referring to a patient) “Basically George, you are a kind of coward. Whenever the going gets a little bit rough, you sell out…You’re always looking for the easy way out, George. Not the right way. The easy way. Where you’re faced with a choice between the right way and the easy way, you’ll take the easy way every time. The painless way. In fact, you’ll do anything to find the easy way out, even it if means selling your soul…You plead you shouldn’t be accountable… because it was [done] under duress. Of course it was [done] under duress. Why else would one do that, except to rid oneself of some kind of suffering?…The question is not duress.”

“The question is how people deal with duress. Some withstand it and overcome it, ennobled. Some break and sell out. You sell out, and I must say, you do it rather easily… If you’re willing to face the painful realities of your life–your terrorfull childhood, your miserable marriage, your mortality, your own cowardice–I can be of some assistance. And I am sure that we will succeed. But if all you want is the easiest possible relief from pain, then I expect you are the devil’s man, and I don’t see any way to help you. ” (Imagine being George at this point!)

“There is another reaction that the evil frequently engender in us: confusion. Describing an encounter with an evil person, one woman wrote, it was “as if I’d suddenly lost my ability to think.” Once again, this reaction is quite appropriate. Lies confuse. The evil are “people of the lie” deceiving others as they also build layer upon layer of self-deception…Actually, the lie is designed not so much to deceive others as to deceive themselves. They cannot or will not tolerate the pain of self-reproach…Because they are such experts at disguise, it is seldom possible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. The disguise is usually impenetrable. ”

“It is my experience that evil seems to run in families…The evil are unceasingly engaged in the effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity. They worry about this a great deal. They are acutely sensitive to social norms and what others think about them . . . they dress well, go to work on time, pay their taxes, and outwardly seem to live lives that are above reproach. . . . While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their ‘goodness’ is all on a level of pretense.”

Peck believes that one can call the devil into existence or out of existence. Peck insists that Satan emerges in narcissism and has no power except in a human body. Peck says that Satan must use human beings to do its deviltry. Satan cannot murder except with human hands. The only power Satan has is through human belief in its lies and its principal weapon is establishing fear. And Peck speaks of Hell in the book.

He believes that those in hell are there by their own choice and that they could walk right out of hell if they would relinquish their pride and ask for forgiveness, but they are so caught up in hate that they actually despise goodness. Peck believes Hell dwellers are not in heaven because they personally despise heaven, as they openly despise all altruism and philanthropy. They relish in taking from others and giving little or nothing. For Peck, Hell is a state of being that people fashion for themselves, a state of separateness from God.

Peck says that Hell is not the result of God’s repudiation of man, but of man’s repudiation of God. This book is an incredible eye-opener for anyone who has a family member who seems to suck the life out of everyone around them, who makes all who oppose them feel so guilty for their actions, who seems to need to control everyone who gets near them. Evil seems like such a strong word but this is what they are. What a shame this isn’t required reading in schools and universities the world over.

Peck asserts there are only two states of being: submission to God’s goodness or refusal to submit to anything but one’s own will, & this refusal automatically enslaves one to the forces of evil. He even mentions exorcism as a possible remedy. If you take into account reincarnation, everyone carrying a massive karma to deal with, each one of us is so complex and full of good and evil that I suppose it may be impossible to right the ills of humanity. But at least Scott Peck made an attempt. I can sense the honesty behind his words.




  1. Fascinating, particularly the idea of creating one’s own hell. Will definitely give this a read one day. Thanks for sharing!


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